Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. There are many things we can do to decrease air pollution, and this Clean Air Day we are focusing on the impactful action of walking short distance trips and leaving the car at home, where possible. There are many benefits to your physical health, mental health and the planet. Plus it’s free!
It’s been proven that children who do some form of exercise, especially a walk before school, do better in class because they arrive refreshed, fit and ready to learn.
During morning peak traffic times, one in five cars on the road are taking children school, contributing to congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.
The school run alone is responsible for generating half a million tonnes of CO2 per year (which is more than some small countries!). Imagine what we could achieve if we began converting some of these rides to strides?
A simple action like walking more can help to reduce air pollution which will have massive benefits to your health and the planet and also results in:
Decreasing your exposure to harmful particulates means living a longer and healthier life and reduces the likelihood of developing long term health conditions.
Choosing active travel (walking or cycling) means we are able to build in exercise into everyday life, which has both physical and mental health benefits.
With traffic being one of the leading causes of deaths for children worldwide, removing road danger from our streets will reduce road traffic accidents.
Streets that are designed around people rather than traffic, create community and are better places for people and children to play and meet.
Creating less polluted and greener streets is also an important part of the solution to the climate emergency, where approximately a quarter of emissions are produced by transport.
Tips to get walking
1. Plan ahead – use a map or app to search the best route before you set off.
2. Build it up – start with shorter distances and increase it as you get more confident and fitter.
3. Be weather prepared – don’t be put off by rain – grab your raincoat and umbrella! Sunny? Get your hat and sun cream.
4. Wear comfortable shoes – such as trainers or boots to ensure your journey doesn’t cause any unnecessary pain to your feet.
5. Connect while you walk – listen to a podcast or music, or even call someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with for a while. But have the volume low enough to hear oncoming traffic and stay alert to your surroundings.
– Find out more about Walking to School. – To make walking more accessible for everyone, try Sustrans walking and cycling
– Download DHSC’s Active 10 Apple app or DHSC’s Active 10 Android app which will help you track your walking, set goals and see how far you’ve come on your walking journey.